Throughout my career I have worked to help clients reach their peak performance; as a result people often ask me, “What’s the secret elixir? How do you reach your peak?
People who seek hacks and “secrets” to reach peak performance are not at all surprising. Entrepreneurship creates a unique set of responsibilities and urgency. It requires one to develop heightened awareness and impeccable timing.
It also means staying in the learning zone—that sweet spot where you’re acquiring new skills and knowledge, pushing yourself to up your game, and energized to take on any new challenge that comes your way—all in an intentional, mindful way.
Finally, for entrepreneurs to thrive they must possess the skills needed to self-manage, get perspective, and prioritize. This is where flow plays a critical role.
When you’re in flow, you’re in the zone. Better yet, when you’re in flow, you’re more creative and productive than ever before. But flow isn’t just about impact in the workplace. It’s also about your ability to take care of your body, wellness, and work-life balance.
Flow is a mindset, a method, and a set of systems, structures, or habits designed to help us do more and be happier in the process.
Increasing time in flow by 15 to 20% has been found to double one’s productivity. For this reason flow is frequently the factor that separates successes from failures. So how do you get into flow?
Step 1. Prepare
To embark on flow step back and get clear on your desired outcomes. Be strategic and engage in deep thinking about what you want and need to happen next. As an entrepreneur, it’s critical to do this for the day and for larger stretches of time (for example, each month or fiscal quarter). This means asking yourself pointed questions. So ask yourself, “What do I need to accomplish by the end of the workday?” and, “What are my growth and revenue targets for the first quarter?”
Step 2. Struggle Purposefully
Once you’re clear on what you are chasing, engage in intentional focused intervals of effort. Struggle isn’t our enemy. Purposeful struggle—struggle that is pushing us to tackle new challenges and learn new things—is golden! While it is not good to spend 100% of your time struggling, if you’re never in struggle, then you’re not growing, and neither is your business.
Step 3. Release
Research shows that we can only struggle intentionally, purposefully, and with full effort in small steps (e.g., 90-minute sprints). To struggle successfully, you have to take time out to release—even if it is just a short walk or a few minutes of idle contemplation. Schedule in release time, and prioritize doing those things that make you truly happen whether it is spending.
Step 4. Flow
When we’re in flow, we are so engaged in our work that we lose track of the time. We’re consumed by what we are doing to the point where it feels effortless. When you’re in this state, maximize your time to realize projects you never imagined completing.
Step 5. Recover
Flow feels so fantastic that you’ll want more, but first you need to take time to recover and reward yourself.
Why Flow is Essential to Business
Flow might sound like something that is just about individuals, but it is also about the bottom line. As I explore at length in my latest book, Create More Flow, flow can have a phenomenal impact on individuals and organizations—on what they do, how they do it, and what they achieve over time. A study by McKinsey & Company found that when we are in flow, we are up to seven times more creative and up to five times more productive. Just imagine the impact that could have on your business.
In my work with entrepreneurs, I have seen the impact of more flow first-hand. It is a way to optimize one’s work while also restoring harmony and balance. In an overwired and digitally distracted world, flow is a critical step entrepreneurs can take to keep optimizing and growing their businesses.
Dr. Camille Preston is the Founder and CEO of AIM Leadership, a partner with Blackhorn Ventures, a recognized thought leader on virtual effectiveness, and the author of two books, including Create More Flow. Read her interview on LadyBossBlogger here.